Liberal blogger Vijay Sappani brings up an important point on the way to his wedding (good luck, Vijay! A fellow South Asian is rooting for you):
VijaySappani.com: Canada in India: Most people are shocked to know avout our cultural diversity and think that after 9/11 most visible minorities live in fear. Canada needs to do a lot of marketing in these parts of the world and tell people we are NOT USA! Most of my friends are post grads from top schools in India working in cutting edge techonology and they will be great assest for the ever growing demand for skilled professionals in Canada, but with a image like this we wil never be able to get them.
This is one of the most important economic arguments against "deep integration" into the US. Certain people, in the Reformish end of the spectrum most spectacularly, but in the back rooms of the Liberal Party as well, shortsightedly see the need to placate America as key to our economic success. There's no denying that the US, with its proximity and its size, is the most important trading partner. But is it really wise to hitch our star to that wagon any more than it is already hitched, a wagon that is presently quite obviously in decline?
Further integration into US systems inevitably entails loss of international perception as a distinct country. Further 9/11 paranoia as pushed by the Reformish political elements in Canada make us a more closed country. Worse still, it promotes a vicious cycle of increasing dependence on the US, an increasingly fragile basket in which to put all our eggs. And it contributes to the impression that Canada is not a good place for "foreigners" to live and work, given the now-tarnished image of America.